Book Reviews

Laxmiprasad: The Mirror and the Light

The book under review is entitled The Mirror and the Light : Critical Essays on Indian Writing in English is published by Aadi Publications, Jaipur in 2021. It is dedicated to the hallowed memory of two literary stalwarts namely late Prof. K.R. Srinivasa Iyengar and late Prof. C.D. Narasimhaiah for their relentless efforts in promoting Indian Writing in English. There is a page for acknowledgements and a Preface by the author. The contents include 26 well researched papers on Indian writers in English.

Laxmiprasad observes that the poetry of T. Vasudeva Reddy is a mirror of rural life in wonderful depiction of verses. Perhaps, no other Indo-English poet has given so much impetus to this relatively neglected theme as T. V. Reddy abundantly dealt with it in all his collections of poetry. A poet of profound knowledge in rural life, he has presented the panorama in pageant and colorful and painful descriptions.

Thus the poems of T. Vasudeva Reddy become page turners of rural settings and countryside life and the readers reap the fruits of the pleasure in reading the poetical lines of T.Vasudeva Reddy who has devoted greater space for poems on the life led in the villages of the present day. In the next paper, he writes that P C K Prem emerges as a matured philosopher to the core of his writings.

Philosophy enables him to present the eternal truths of universe. He has presented those realizations from philosophic angles which are truly reflective and revolutionary. He makes an earnest attempt to probe into the mysteries of life and unravel the enigma of identity. He refers to the allusions and references from history and religions of the East and the West which become an integral part of his poetry. He offers a kaleidoscopic vision of the vast canvas of his poetry.

The images are clear and concrete and as such they are at once decorative and functional. He goes deeply philosophical in his delineation of incidences and makes them highly relevant for a man of modern times. The underlying significance of philosophy glitters with universal truths and eternity of life. On the whole, the poetry of P C K Prem unravels the mysteries of existence from philosophical thrust. It is an integration of enigmas of human existence, philosophical realizations and artistic sublimity.

In the third paper, Symbolism in DC Chambial’s Poetry, Laxmiprasad writes that the poetry of DC Chambial is rooted in symbolism. Almost, all the poems of his eight collections are rich in symbols and build up a characteristic element in his poetry. Symbolism makes poetry more beautiful and meaningful. Without symbols, all poetry is prosaic.

Chambial has used symbols to effectively target the loopholes, weakness, and maladies of society. He is socially symbolic when he ventures to present the existing picture of life around him. All men and women are white as pearls and innocent as lambs when born. The world teaches them to be hypocrite behind their appearances. The lust for power makes them blood-thirsty and finally, they are turned into wolves and hyenas which symbolize wildlife of lust, cruelty and malady in mind. He writes in his poem ‘On This Day’:

Men and women born white as pearls innocents as lambs
the lust for power (political and religious) makes them blood-thirsty
turn in to wolves and hyenas.(CP 13)

In the next paper, Laxmiprasad studied K.V.Raghupathi’s “Voice of the Valley” which is a deep-rooted collection on an endless quest for Truth. It is a spiritual exploration of radical philosophical thoughts which speak throughout the composition. He has inwardly taken up the issues confronting the very existence of man in the mundane world. They are, no doubt, stunning revelations and relevance of which are brilliantly presented in a lucid but meaningful philosophy.

The depth of contents is unusually philosophical. Employment of imagery, figures of speech, and rhetorical method of presentation render the collection typically philosophical, above all spiritual. Influence of Indian spirituality largely impacts the mind of poetry. It is a thoroughly scrutinized journey in the quest for Truth. K.V. Raghupathi will join the select band of Indian spiritual writers like Tagore, Sri Aurobindo, J. Krishna Murthy and Swamy Vivekananda.

In the paper on Existential Concepts, Laxmiprasad writes that Manas Bakshi is more concerned with man’s predicament in the context of fallen values, his deep-rooted anguish and existential search in the meaning of life. He is Eliotian in the style of presentation. Emotional and mental disturbances need the poet to compose poems on the universe of agony and chaos.

Bakshi’s typical voice of protest, anger, frustration, grief and despair is seen in almost every line. He sensitizes the all- round decay and rot in his largely felt words. The tone is grief-stricken, frustrated and disgusting. There is confusion and chaos in the society largely because of dark elements that terrorize the very existence of man in the universe. There is a crisis of values in the world. He has successfully given poetic expression to a wide range of emotions. His work is free from affectations. His poetry voices the aches and turbulences of a soul already wounded.

He undertakes a microscopic examination of puzzles and challenges and reveals solutions at macroscopic level. Truly, his poetry deals with the universe of agony and chaos. It is an explorative study on Existential concepts from his poetry.

Laxmiprasad brilliantly explores Transcendentalism K.V. Raghupathi’s Dispersed Symphonies is a manifesto of transcendentalism rooted in a style highly figurative and filled with abundant similes and metaphors, personifications, apostrophe, irony, climax and anti climax and full of rhetoric and symbols. It is difficult to come across such a rare blend of all these elements in Indian English poetry. Although these reflections are prose in form they sound highly lyrical.

The muse in Raghupathi is very strong and persisting. The poet strongly advocates that men must transcend the senses in order to attain spiritual bliss. He is in love with the things that are untamable in Nature and of these; his poetic expression becomes a sort of solid artistic embodiment. In another brilliant paper on Images in KV Raghupathi’s Samarpana,

Laxmiprasad observes that Imagery in the collection is largely nature-centered. The poet has produced a marvelous depiction of subtly related images by taking birds, leaves, music instruments, the sun, and the moon and so on All these make Raghupathi a poet of Imagery in Samarpana. Indeed, the poet maintains that Nature-Imagery is a manifestation of the glory and greatness of God and through her, man can look into the real life of things. Truly, Samarpana shows a greater maturity of Raghupathi’s poetic faculty. The poet owes his greatness in literature to his ardent love of nature especially to his spiritual interpretation of nature.

Indian Sensibilty can be found in the stories P.Raja. Laxmiprasad estimates that Raja is an established story writer to the core of his writings. A minute observer and a trend – setter, he exposes social hypocrisy, vices and evils. The art of characterization is simply superb and the thematic concerns are distinctly Indian in setting and locale. Indian sensibility is the chief forte of the collection. Raja focuses more on Indian situations, using different modes of narration required for story – writing. Though Raja claims to be a pure entertainer and he has no motive in his writings unlike the committed writers and because of this reason, he could be bracketed as belonging to the school, Art for Art’s sake, serious readers can dispute his claim by discerning subtle messages that several of his short stories convey. The underlying tone of his humour is subtly conveyed.

Cultural Vision of North Karnataka can be found in yet another paper on Basavaraj Naikar’s The Golden Servant and Other Stories. The culture of India is the way of life of the people of India. The Indian culture often labelled as amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian sub-continent and has been influenced by a rich legacy of history that is several millennia old. The Indian literature too flourished with tradition, custom and culture. Indian English Writers have amply demonstrated this reality in their works.

Basavaraj Naikar hails from Karnataka whose writings reflect more or less regional, cultural and social perspectives rooted in Kannada land. He carries with him a rich legacy of writings which are known for cultural vision of north Karnataka, the land from where he hails. He chooses only those aspects of life which he knows very well and presents with greater perception. As a sensitive observer of Indian culture and tradition, Naikar depicts the Indian sensibility and culture side by side. He presents the realities of contemporary existence in a comprehensive style.

Jayanti M Dalal is a Gujarati writer who has to his credit 25 published books as on today. The novel ‘Bleeding Heights of Kargil’, translated from Gujarati into English, touches upon the issue of cross-border terrorism in the name of religion. Jayanti M Dalal impeccably describes how the terrorist outfits recruit young men and systematically become the victims of phoney religious propaganda and allurements like wine, women and wealth. In India, the Kargil war was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that actually took place in the Kargil district of Kashmir and along LOC (Line of Actual Control). This war took place between May 1999 and July 1999. It is also remembered as Operation Vijay. The main cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistan soldiers who came disguised as Kashmiri militants into positions and on the LOC.

In another paper on KV Raghupathi’s Images of a Growing and Dying City, K.V. Raghpathi largely characterizes the special quality of his work, his deep sense of city life and his acute observations in The Images of a Growing Dying City. In each poem the poet has represented a particular state of the city in a particular image in a remarkable way. As we move from poem to poem, we discover the gradual decay in terms of life and values. The poet has succinctly captured the images and arranged them in sequential manner.

The sequence is both linear and vertical; hence the decay is seen in all dimensions. These images are not imaginative but concrete and evocative. Literary vitality and energy lie only in innovation and creation. The poet has achieved a good balance between the ends and means of city in terms of values and quality of life. The city has grown considerably and at the same time, collapsed on similar lengths and breadths of value-based life. Every bit of city life projects that it is growing and dying, dying and growing. The need to choose the right path is a problem often faced in life more so in cities.

Laxmiprasad takes up Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement for a critical evaluation.   The paper is entitled as, “The Politics of Climate Crisis: A Critical Study of Amitav Ghosh’s The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable”. Laxmiprasad observes that “The book makes for exhilarant yet enriching reading. Desperate times call for desperate measures. He voices his concerns like a writer rather than like a scientist. It is literature, history and politics that hold the key to the very survival of all living species. Climate crisis is dangerously alive”. Ghosh interrogates the politics of sincerity and commitment. The crisis gets reduced to individual preferences. “The Paris Agreement” confirms the irreversible transition to a low carbon, safer and healthier world. It has ushered in an era of hope and optimism. Ghosh strongly condemns the undue and unjust intervention of politics of exploitation and attrition and politics of domination against the neighbor countries.

His contribution on Climate Change is an important addition to the growing concerns of environment. The richness and diversity of theme is remarkable and it has become an important study for the scholars and critics to work on ecological consciousness.

Laxmiprasad has studied Mahesh Dattani’s Final Solutions. It examines the so-called liberal attitudes to communalism. We can discern in the play the repulsive, frenzied, perfidious power of the perpetrators of these crimes. Dattani highlights the deep sense of futility of such bloody acts of violence in this play. He is successful in touching the deep sense of futility which fills the heart of those involved in committing such violence, Javed is not only the sinner. Ramnik Gandhi, Aruna and Hardika – all have played their parts and ultimately have to share the burden of guilt.

The final solution seems to be a life proposed by the young Smita and Bobby who possess a consciousness that is liberated from the sifting coves of religious cults and who meet their fellow being at a secular plane. Dattani has combined the sub-plot with the main plot. Yet, the play ends with no solution for the communal problem.

The theme of Communal harmony figures prominently in the paper. Laxmiprasad writes that Basavaraj Naikar portrayed a great kannada saint poet in Sharif Saheb who synthesized the Hindu and Muslim cultures. Light in the house symbolizes knowledge and body of Sharif Saheb who is an eternal symbol of harmony between the two communities. Being a Muslim, he embraced Hinduism and attained the supreme knowledge i.e., to reach the shores of God through his inner body. Sherif Saheb was a gifted child. Equally, he found a gifted teacher in Govindabhatta who kindled a spirit of communal harmony and fostered the human values by teaching from the Holy Scriptures. The novel is culturally evocative and influential for upholding the themes of harmony and renunciation.

Psychological and Social Realism in Rabindranath Tagore’s Stolen Treasure and Other Stories is yet another paper on Tagore’s story collection. The story collection ‘Stolen Treasure and Other Stories’ strongly reflects Tagore’s profound humanism. His all-embracing humanitarian vision can empathize with an illiterate deaf-mute and stick up for the rights of a woman wronged by society. Written mostly during the 1890s, these stories convey a variety of themes, showcase Tagore’s reflections on contemporary rural and urban life, and serve as a commentary on the social issues of the time.

In another paper , Laxmiprasad writes that Majumdar’s assertion of haikus in “Golden Horizon” leaves a kind of stunning effect on the thinking of the readers. Rather, introspection is the moving force of philosophy that haikus aim to reveal to the readers through innovation. It is worthwhile to quote what Prof. Kazuyosi Ikeda, the poet from the land of Haikus, Japan: “The poet Biplab Majumdar’s haikus are superlatively fascinating having surpassingly profound significance. His haiku glitter gorgeously, like heavenly stars and are exceedingly lucid like genuine pearls in the sea’s bottom. Such English haiku are highly evaluated as true haiku by Japanese people” Such is the greatness and uniqueness of haikus and that they are crafted in the true spirit of haikus, quite accomplished and worthwhile existences in the world of haiku as poetry.

Laxmiprasad proceeds to study Basavaraj Naikar’s ‘A Dreamer of Freedom’ which is truly a colonial conflict between freedom and oppression, faith and betrayal, Indian princes and colonial rulers. It is an extraordinary play of bravery, adventurousness and self-respect. Basavaraj Naikar has touched upon the predominant theme of self-respect and self-rule from colonial conquest which in our times is really influential to invoke a sense of patriotism and honour. Further, the play also depicted a continuing saga of conspiracies and unending villainies. Indeed, the play can be termed as historical drama in the Indian Freedom Struggle. In the paper, Laxmiprasad has studies K.V. Raghupathi’s Orphan and other Poems which is a critique of his own social encounters. Further, it is a collection of superb sensitivity, strong emotions and finally with a touch of contemporaneity. As a poet of realism, Raghupathi touches upon the elements of shared concerns, sufferings and pains. He condemns, protests, shares, and satirizes the follies of human beings. The poems of the collection have dealt with the common social encounters in the society. No writer can escape from the influence of his age. Raghupathi reflects his zeitgeist or the time-spirit. The poet has presented his anguish and become melancholic and philosophical here and there. The collection is, indeed, a flowing cascade of social perspectives.

Rabindranath Tagore’s Home and the World [Ghare Bhaire]:A Gripping Portrayal of Swadeshi Movement is a highly acclaimed paper on Tagore by Laxmiprasad. It is a scholarly paper. Tagore’s novel Ghare Bhaire has profound historical significance when we look at it from nationalistic perspective. The Swadeshi movement predominantly began with the partition of Bengal by the Viceroy of India, Lord Curzon in 1905 and continued up to 1911. This was precisely the most successful of the Pre- Gandhian movements. MK Gandhi strategically focused on Swadeshi who described it as the Soul of Swaraj (Self-rule). They movement was officially announced on 7 August, 1905 at the famous Calcutta Town Hall, in Bengal. Later, this was used to boycott all the British goods in the country. The spirit of the movement was to use goods produced in India and burning of British–made goods. Swadeshi movement paved the way to the successive movements such as Satyagraha movement and Non-Cooperation movement.

It was written against the backdrop of the partition of Bengal by the British in 1905, Home andthe World (Ghare Bhaire) by Rabindranath Tagore, the Nobel Laureate, is a telling portrayal of the chasms inherent in the nationalist movement. Any movement by people is particularly interesting and a movement such as Swadeshi movement holds special significance in the history of Indian Freedom Struggle. Swadeshi was a clarion call to rebel against the imported goods. In the words of Anita Desai, the noted Indo-English novelist, “Home and the World” has the complexity and tragic dimensions of Tagore’s own time and ours”. Readers are reminded that Tagore protested the Jallianwallah Bagh massacres and rejected the knighthood honour.

PCK Prem’s Shadows at Dawn : A Scrutinized Gamut of Human relationships. The story of “Relations” is the voice of rebellion against social taboos like widow remarriage, silent sufferings and oppressions. The writer champions the cause of widow remarriage which is particularly interesting. We find an affectionate mother-in-law who true to her numberless scars of suffering did not allow her daughter – in –law to suffer for long. She came out boldly against social barriers and remarried her daughter –in-law. The story reflects that societal dogmas continue to exist so long as we live in them and remain an ideal story for those who come out openly and voice against the voiceless.

“Bonds” is the second story of the collection that really projects deteriorating and demoralizing bonds of contemporary life. It involves the story of Dr. Simran and Dr. Reshu whose continued estrangement severed bonds of marriage and affected the future of children. A glaring example and episode of degraded bonds appears when Dr. Reshu calls Dr. Simran ‘an animal’. It is in the words of Dr. Reshu that Prem presents an actual scenario. “I was totally shattered, confused and unbelieving. Those initial dreamy talks of love are gone. Those platonic expressions are finished. He lacks interest in me. “I am a living body for him on whom he can perform his operation without any human feeling”(19). A womanizer in Dr. Simran was responsible for bitter relations. His thoughtless sexual involvements with the nurses in hospital made her estranged. “with all the noise that he is making in the hospital. Those liaisons with nurses. That beating in the room” (21).

Thus the critical volume consists of a highly deserving research papers. It evinces Laxmiprasad’s keen interest for Indian Writers and their works. Truly it is a marvelous work on Indian Writers in English. It is highly useful for research scholars.


More by :  Dr. Sr. Candy D' Cunha

Top | Book Reviews

Views: 598      Comments: 2

Comment Really a comprehensive review. Congratulations to the critic Laxmiprasad and the reviewer.

11-Jul-2023 05:11 AM

Comment Very impressive!

Dr. D. Vijaya Lakshmi
26-Jun-2023 05:35 AM

Name *

Email ID

Comment *
Verification Code*

Can't read? Reload

Please fill the above code for verification.